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Press release: Landowners Rejoice as Navigator CO2 Cancels Midwest Carbon Pipeline Project That Sought Eminent Domain

Mark Hefflinger, Bold Alliance (Photo: Bryon Houlgrave/Des Moines Register

By Mark Hefflinger

News October 20, 2023

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, October 20th, 2023

Landowners Rejoice as Navigator CO2 Cancels Midwest Carbon Pipeline Project That Sought Eminent Domain
Coalition of Pipeline Opponents Scores Historic Victory

Des Moines, IA – After a heated two-year battle with landowners across the midwest, Navigator Heartland Greenway has officially announced defeat of their contentious hazardous carbon pipeline. The historic news comes on the heels of resistance in Iowa, South Dakota, Illinois, Minnesota, and Nebraska by a diverse coalition of landowners, environmentalists, local governments and community groups.

“Navigator treated farmers and ranchers with disdain and aggression. Starting a negotiating process out telling landowners the corporation is going to take their land by eminent domain is a losing strategy. And today, Navigator found out what happens when you go against organized landowners and unlikely alliances,” said Bold Alliance and Bold Nebraska founder Jane Kleeb.

“Everyone said we have no chance against foreign-backed, multi-billion dollar hazardous pipelines but when hundreds of landowners band together with a unified legal strategy, we can win,” said Brian Jorde, Attorney for Easement Teams LLC and Domina Law Group representing hundreds of affected landowners across the Midwest.

“Unlike many other issues, this was never a case of right vs left, it was right vs wrong. The people united to resist Navigator at every level in every corner of every state and we won,” said Jess Mazour, Conservation Program Coordinator of Sierra Club Iowa Chapter. “We will continue our staunch opposition to carbon pipeline scams like Summit and Wolf. These projects are not for the public benefit, they never have been and they never will be.”

Kim Junker, a Butler County, Iowa Farmer impacted by the Navigator pipeline, said, “It’s very rare for people of so many different backgrounds and beliefs to stand together against something. We did and we won. It was clear from the start that despite their billions of dollars the power of everyday people would overcome these pipeline scams. But the fight isn’t over, we need to remain vigilant and pass laws to make sure no other private corporation can threaten our land and our legacy again.”

“The cancellation of Navigator’s CO2 pipeline project highlights Navigator’s failure to address the widespread concerns from farmers, landowners, environmental advocates, and elected officials from both sides of the aisle in Illinois. Their inability to obtain easements from farmers and landowners to build their project, and the two recommendations of denial they received from a senior ICC staff member clearly indicates concerns over property rights, safety, and points to the fact that Navigator’s project was not in the public interest. While the Coalition to Stop CO2 pipelines will take some time to celebrate, we also know that Wolf Carbon Solutions is currently being reviewed by the Illinois Commerce Commission, and that Illinois remains a target for CO2 pipelines and sequestration due to our unique geology. We will continue to fight Wolf’s project and expand our reach in counties and municipalities beyond either pipeline route, so that they can prepare for the next wave of pipelines. But there is only so much local governments can do. The Illinois General Assembly needs to act swiftly to ensure any CO2 pipeline follows PHMSA’s updated rules to improve safety and oversight once they are adopted, and that safe setbacks for these extremely hazardous CO2 pipelines will be ensured through safe setbacks and routing,” said Pam Richart, Co-Director, Illinois Eco-Justice Collaborative.

“Dakota Rural Action celebrates the cancellation of the Navigator Heartland Greenway CO2 pipeline project. This is a tremendous victory for the impacted citizens and landowners who were going to be crossed. Dakota Rural Action will continue to organize with impacted people in South Dakota to accomplish the local ordinances and statewide eminent domain reform that is needed for long term protections,” said Chase Jensen, organizer with Dakota Rural Action in South Dakota.

Wally Taylor, attorney for Sierra Club Iowa Chapter, stated, “It was clear from the beginning that Navigator was floundering. And it didn’t have the political clout that Summit believes will allow Summit to bully its way through the Iowa political and regulatory system.”

“I’m happy to hear that Navigator has canceled their carbon pipeline project considering it did not follow the Constitution of the United States,” stated Larry Sailer, Franklin County, Iowa Planning and Zoning Board Chairman. “We must get back to following the Constitution to straighten out our County and get back on course.”

“This defeat proves the power of rural communities and landowners. We have always believed that the risk to our safety and damage to the land was far too great. From the start, we were told that these projects were inevitable. We are finding a way to fight back against one of the biggest industries. We will continue to fight so that future generations and other communities don’t face the same threat of eminent domain for private gain,” said Richard McKean, an Iowa landowner on the Navigator route.

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